The Relevance of Human Rights Abuse

8 11 2010

Upon reading the latest dispatch from Tomgram, the line that struck me most was the opening line where Chase Madar, a lawyer from New York, relives the observation of a German journalist on the occasion of a visit to Guantanamo Bay.

His lamenting comparison between Gitmo and The United States’ domestic correctional facilities rang true but it was all lost on me as my mind went back to the recent headline grabbing news of imprisoned Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo on becoming the first Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate from behind the walls of prison.

As you are all aware, controversy ensued with China lashing back at the West for undermining them. We all saw the full spread editorials taken out by the Chinese government on all our dailies justifying their actions and countering what they saw as an indictment of their judicial process by the Western world through the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo — a dissident according to them.

All the human rights watchdogs the world over jumped on the band wagon to put China on the spot. In fact Liu Xiaobo has again won another prize from the New York based Human Rights Watch who honoured him for “risking his life to protect the dignity of others.”

I have no qualms there given China’s iron-fist rule and their appalling record of human rights abuse. In saying that, I certainly have no misgivings on this fearless fighter receiving such notable awards. He is absolutely deserving of these awards according to what I have read so far on him.

Mind you, I am hardly an aficionado of China. Not especially when their state-owned mining companies are planning to dump shit-loads of toxic sludge and poison into my sea and in the process, destroy my land and people and our way of life. And I am not even mentioning the influx of knock-offs and cheap goods and goodness knows what else that is coming into this country from the East.

What bothers me however, is what I see as the double standards being paraded around in full view by the West and the countries of the “free” world, spurred on by their mainstream media. This is a case of the proverbial speck-in-your-brother’s-eye/log-in-your-own-eye scenario.

Omar Khadr was detained in late July 2002 in Afghanistan when he was aged 15 © Private

Here, let’s go back to Camp Delta at Gitmo. Oh and while we are there, why not we take a sneak peak across to Abu Ghraib. Do not forget Bagram while you are there. Shall we go on or don’t you or do you get the picture?

Where is Amnesty International in this picture? Where is Human Rights Watch here? But of course they spoke out loud on the Omar Khadr case. If he was not Canadian would we even know of a Omar Khadr? What about David Hicks? If he were not Australian, would he have stirred up the media, especially the Australian press and public opinion? Of course not. Speaking of Mr. Hicks, he’s got his tell-all book out I hear.

And who knows about the thousands of others holed up in these and other similar detention centres all over the world, “detained indefinitely” thanks to policies of the very witty Bush Jr and his war-mongering subjects.

So what gives the US and the rest of the Western world the right to accuse another sovereign state about its human rights abuse when they themselves, the supposed champions of democracy, a nation founded on the  pillars of justice and liberty continue unabated in what can be deemed as gross misconduct of justice and abuse of human rights?

And closer to home, what about the ongoing abuse of human rights perpetrated by the Indonesian government on the indigenous people of West Papua in Irian Jaya? Why is the United Nations and the major governments of the West silent on this issue? But then why would they bother when Freeport Mining (Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc), a US owned mining company is having a dream run that any greedy mining company can only dream of.

Obviously there is more to it than meets the eye. Isn’t it apparent the abuse of human rights as we are led to see and believe will only kick up a storm depending on whose side you are on? A person’s or a group of people’s human rights are ‘seen to be’ abused only when it is “those guys” who are doing the abusing or when it goes contrary to the interests of the especially US-aligned western powers.

So I ask, where is the justice in all these then?


  • Go here to read the full Universal Declaration of Human Rights



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